Terra Park and Robert Jay of Terra Firma Farms inside their indoor growing space at their property. The space contains several long tables covered with seedlings being illuminated by rows of fluorescent lights.

Spring is in the air – time to get that garden going

It’s hard to imagine with so much snow on the ground but it’s officially spring and pretty soon lawns will be uncovered and gardening season will begin.

“People should definitely be thinking about it now and if they’re starting out seeds, they should start now,” said Terra Park of Terra Firma Farms.

Park and her partner Robert Jay are well under way, having planted about 70 boxes of seedlings at their property on Mt. Begbie Road.

One of their greenhouses didn’t survive the winter but they’re still quickly getting prepared for the snow to melt. Upstairs in their storage building, sits row upon row of herb and flower seedlings, with fluorescent lights coaxing them out of the soil and into bloom.

“We start mostly herbs and flowers in February,” said Park. “And then, just recently we started tomatoes and peppers and eggplants and stuff like that.”

Park and Jay aren’t the only ones to get started. Sandra Davis, an avid gardener who for 14 years ran a herb farm with more than 600 varieties of herbs, planted her first seedlings on Mar. 8, she said.

“Most of these are just flower seeds at this point in time,” she said. “Broccoli and peppers are the only two vegetables I’ve got going right now.”

Alex Cooper/Times Review

Sandra Davis in her winter growing space, beneath the hot tub of her central Revelstoke home. Once the plants start to sprout she’ll move them upstairs.

She has her plants set up in a small space beneath a hot tub – it keeps the space warm and relatively humid.

“I do this every year. I don’t like to buy plants from garden centres. I like to start everything from seed,” Davis said.

She lets the plants grow and when they start to sprout, she moves them upstairs in front of a large bay window.

What do you need to start your gardening now? A few fluorescent lights and a warm room is about it. At Terra Firma, the light sits about a foot above the plants – not too high to lose the heat but high enough to not to burn the plants. The strong, consistent light source also helps the plants grow.

“We use the lights to start off with because if you keep them right down close to the plants, it produces strong plants to start off with thick, heavy stalks,” said Jay. “If you try to grow a plant in the window it’s just grasping to reach any sunlight it can so it grows long and spindly – just weaker plants.”

The fluorescent lights Davis uses are specialized grow lights that are designed to maintain a constant temperature.

Eventually, the snow will melt and the plants will be moved outside. In Terra Firma’s case, they said they have a black tarp to put over the snow to accelerate the melting process. Davis admitted to shovelling off her lot.

Once the lawn is clear of snow, it’s a matter of waiting for it to dry out a bit, said Park. Then you can start planting outside.

“When it’s warm enough we’ll put them right in the greenhouse,” said Jay.

Alex Cooper/Times Review

Row upon row of seedlings at Terra Firma Firms growing space. Eventually they’ll be moved into the greenhouse.

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